New York Teaches Chicago How to Ride the Subway


Get this: Chicago has adopted (ripped off!) New York’s trademark subway car style — you know, center-facing seats, overhanging straps, and the need to avoid obvious eye contact — and, it seems, people are suddenly being a lot more polite to each other.

The Chicago Tribune chronicles the new development with regard to the eight newly designed cars on the CTA Red Line, and found that people are taking out their earbuds and talking to each other, offering each other seats, and actually saying “excuse me.” Oh gawd.

This sort of thing can go on for only so long — hence, Chicagoans are quickly learning how to be New Yorkers:

“When you’re facing each other, avoiding eye contact will make you feel a lot better,” said Dan Kennedy, a California Institute of Technology postdoc candidate who studies personal space. “In New York City, it’s so crowded, one way to give you a sense of larger space is to avoid eye contact with people.”

For example, “if the guy sitting across the aisle is giving you looks, you may be best served avoiding eye contact and instead taking a peek at your neighbor’s iPod playlist.”

Other lessons: Don’t smile, don’t wink, don’t sit on the lap of another rider, don’t sit on the floor, don’t eat or drink, and please, do not grasp the subway pole between your butt cheeks.

Also, if your neighbor is listening to “I want to kill you now,” calmly get off the train and report him or her to the nearest person wearing a burgundy vest. And then walk to work.